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Prescription drug abuse a concern among Ohio pharmacists

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NILES, Ohio - According to the Ohio Department of Health, every five hours an Ohioan dies from an accidental drug overdose. Nearly half of those deaths involve prescription pain medicine.

The misuse of the medication was a main topic among members of the Eastern Ohio Pharmacists Association. The group that consists of a couple hundred pharmacists from six Ohio counties gathered Tuesday evening at McMenamy's Restaurant and Banquet Center.

"A lot of times it's within a persons make up that they don't even realize," said EOPA President Paul Witkowski. "I think many times it happens totally unexpectedly that a person now becomes dependent upon a prescription medication that they never really had that thought or had a tendency before hand."

Mahoning County Drug Court Judge John Durkin was a guest speaker at the event. He says 15 years ago the most commonly abused drugs were cocaine or marijuana but today prescription medication is readily available.

"Too many people are getting access, whether from medicine cabinets or physicians who are over prescribing prescription pain pills that people end up addicted to them," said Durkin.

As the trend in addiction changes, so does the road to recovery.

While efforts can be made to reduce the availability of prescription drugs, Durkin warns addicts may then turn to street drugs.

"If we're eliminating the prescription pain pills it's probably too late for them," said Durkin. "Because they are already addicted and they're resorting to street drugs like heroin."

Durkin explains a fairly new trend of treatment for prescription drug abuse works to wean addicts from their addiction using both traditional recovery methods as well as some medication.

Many pharmacists believe they can play a key role in helping to combat the abuse.

"We're the ones to take care of the drugs, to protect the drug supply, to make sure they are safe, that they are effective and going to the people that need them," said Witkowski. "If a person is coming into a store from 50 miles away to fill a prescription that's a red flag."

But many agree the best solution to the epidemic is education and awareness.

"Our drug court is going out to schools, even middle schools to attempt to educate students even at the 7th and 8th grade level," said Durkin. "As well as parents and grandparents, to address the next generation."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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